BEVERLY, Mass. – In their first ever meeting with a New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) program, the Endicott football team came up short 24-17 to Kean on Saturday afternoon at Endicott Stadium. The Cougars used a 47.4% success rate on third down (9-of-19), over 40 minutes of offensive possession, and a strong running game en route to their first win of the season.
Endicott (1-2), after falling behind 16-0 after one half of play, mounted a second half comeback behind a stingy defensive effort and timely offensive drives to pull within a touchdown with 2:45 remaining the game. The Gulls, despite crossing into Kean territory, faltered due to two false start penalties and a game-ending sack on fourth down.
Endicott returns to the gridiron for a Friday night showdown with Curry on September 27th at 7:00 pm to open their New England Football Conference (NEFC) portion of the schedule. The Colonels are 0-2 and coming off a bye week after suffering losses to WPI and Fitchburg State. Kean (1-2) opens up NJAC play in two weeks with a road game at SUNY Cortland on October 5th. Kickoff is at 1:00 pm.
After winning the coin toss and electing to receive, Endicott quickly found themselves in a hole as Gulls junior quarter Drew Frenette's (New Bedford, Mass.) third pass of the game was intercepted by Kean defensive back Hank Limardo (Ocean Township, N.J.) and returned 50 yards to the end zone.
Later in the first quarter with Endicott senior Dylan Rushe (Palos Verdes, Calif.) on the field to punt on 4th-and-14, a botched snap recovered by the Cougars gave Kean outstanding field position on the Gulls 25-yard line. Sean McKee (Middletown, N.J.) five-yard rush was followed by a 20-yard sprint up the middle of the field by Cougars senior quarterback Christian Bailoni (Ocean Township, N.J.) to put the visitors on top 13-0. The extra-point, however, was block by Endicott's Andrew Lawson (Framingham, Mass.).
Kean got a field goal from senior Bill Cullen (Blairstown, N.J.) at the 5:25 mark of the second quarter, connecting from 36 yards out. Cullen had an opportunity to put the Cougars on top 19-0 with six seconds left in the half, but his attempt from 37 sailed wide left of the upright. Endicott trailed 16-0 at the break.
Endicott finally got on the board midway through the third quarter on a Rushe 26-yard field goal make. With only seconds remaining before the start of the fourth quarter, Frenette rushed into the end zone from three yards out to make it a 16-10 game. Endicott had been placed on the Kean 46-yard line after Gulls senior Curtis Manuel (Beverly, Mass.) blocked a Nicholas Fuentes (New Providence, N.J.) punt and Michael Maldonado (Palm Beach, Fla.) recovered the ball for Endicott. Frenette then connected with Alec Matys (Woburn, Mass.) down the middle of the field on a one-handed grab to set up the touchdown.
Kean responded on their very next drive, taking 5:29 off the clock on a 12-play, 65-yard drive that ended in Bailoni getting his own rushing touchdown. Bailoni helped tack on two more points with a conversion pass to Prince Stewart (Newark, N.J.), putting the Cougars ahead 24-10.
Endicott's ensuing drive following the Kean touchdown was 12 plays for 80 yards as Frenette went 7-of-10 with 55 passing yards. He brought Endicott down to the Kean one-yard line where sophomore tailback Trevon Offley (Brockton, Mass.) barreled through for the score to make it a 24-17 game.
The Gulls, however, would come up short in their final possession of the game as a combined sack from Cougars linebacker Matt Clerk (Jersey City, N.J.) and Limardo on 4th-and-11 ended the game for Endicott.
Kean's McKee finished with a game-high 90 yards rushing on 17 attempts with Kevin O'Connor (Springfield, N.J.) and Will Ingram (Linden, N.J.) adding 54 and 35 yards, respectively. Bailoni threw for 147 yards and two interceptions, both to Endicott safety Jason Silva (Palatine, Ill.), but used his legs for two touchdowns. Tight end Jim Dennis (Monroe Township, N.J.) led the team with 37 yards on four receptions.
Endicott's ground game was held in check with Spencer Walsh (Malden, Mass.) gaining 38 yards on 17 attempts for an average of 2.2 yards per rush. Frenette finished with 191 yards passing, two interceptions, and one rushing touchdown. Matys had a career day, hauling in a career-high seven balls for 107 yards including his one-handed, 43-yard grab.
Defensively, Kean's Bob Klecha (Wallington, N.J.) and Endicott's Nick Kozlowski (Beverly, Mass.) and Holfinger all had a game-high 11 tackles. Holfinger added four tackles for a loss including 1.5 sacks. Silva added 10 tackles to go along with his two interceptions with 68 return yards. Freshman Craig Anderson (Franklin, Mass.) and senior Marcell Cooper (Dorchester, Mass.) both added nine takedowns each.